Nashville, Tenn. – Dec. 2, 2011 – After serving its community as a firehouse for more than 40 years, and with hopes for a neighborhood art center left unrealized, the historic Gallatin Road Fire Hall Engine No. 18 was damaged by a structure fire last night. One person was injured and serious damage inflicted on a building featured by Historic Nashville, Inc. (HNI) in its 2011 Nashville Nine list of the city’s most endangered historic properties. The building was previously designated in 2006 by the Metro Council and Metro Historic Zoning Commission as a Local Landmark, which requires the city to review and approve any renovation and repair work to ensure that it complies with appropriate guidelines.
Today, Tim Walker, Executive Director of the Metro Historical and Historic Zoning Commissions, held an emergency meeting with a representative from North Edgefield Organized Neighbors (NEON), a nonprofit which acquired the property in 2008, and a local contractor. The early prognosis is good: Metro Historic Zoning and the contractor deemed the damage to the 80-year-old brick building can be repaired. A permit will be issued today for a temporary roof covering to protect it from the elements and the addition of plywood over the windows and doors to secure the building and keep people out. A local architect has volunteered to produce plans to guide the repairs and renovation process.
“This fire is a reminder that Nashville’s historic buildings, the places that make Nashville unique, must be maintained and kept from falling into disrepair and neglect,” said HNI president Robbie Jones, who inspected the building last night soon after the fire was extinguished. “A vacant historic building is an accident waiting to happen and more importantly a missed opportunity. Let’s work together to revitalize our endangered historic places and keep communication going between communities, city government agencies, and nonprofits to ensure there are no more injuries, or loss of historic buildings in our city.”
Next steps for the fire hall will be the execution of plans to renovate and refurbish the property, which have been underway since it was sold by its previous owners, Wayne and Linda Hackney, to Wal-Mart in 2004. They used the building for their office, to house antique cars and as a car lot. Wal-Mart in turn gifted the property to NEON in 2004 to be used as a community art center.
This is the fifth Nashville Nine property to be lost or seriously damaged in the last three years. Vacant, neglected buildings – especially during the winter – are too often used as an unsafe refuge and as such pose hazards to individuals and the community. Other Nashville properties lost include the “Silverdene” mansion in East Nashville, Charlotte Pike Church of Christ near Sylvan Park, Murphy School in Midtown and the Nipper’s Sporting Goods neon sign overlooking 8th Avenue downtown.
Historic Nashville will continue to monitor the situation as it progresses.